Marking Criteria for Translations

Guidance applies to students studying at Level 1, 2 and 4

Marking criteria for translation into English

The criteria below give an indication of how module tutors and examiners grade translation work from the language of study into English. The criteria are cumulative (a higher grade implies the possession of the skills described at lower grades, as well as the absence of deficiencies described at lower grades). At the same time, the grade profiles are necessarily general and typical: a candidate need not fit all aspects of a profile to fall into that grade band and there may be elements that do not apply to every translation exercise. In specialist translation exercises (e.g. literary translation, applied translation), additional criteria may apply.

Please note the following in applying these criteria:

  • In coursework (as opposed to examination) a higher degree of accuracy is expected in each of the grade bands and marks are deducted for poor dictionary skills.
  • Repeated or consequential errors are not penalized.
  • Gaps are penalized.
  • Marking is not purely ‘negative’: marks are deducted for mistakes but marks are also awarded for good translation ability as defined below.

High 1st 90+%

No errors in comprehension of the passage. Rendition of the passage into English conveys, as far as is possible for a translated text, all aspects of the sense of the original, including nuances of style, register, metaphor and cultural reference.

Good 1st 80-89%

Virtually no problems of comprehension of the passage. The English version shows flair in use of English, which accurately renders the original in an appropriate register. The student correctly identifies all points of difficulty in the translation and shows imagination in dealing with them. Only one or two imperfections. Work which would be judged as excellent or very good at the next highest level of study.

Low 1st 70-79%

Very good comprehension of the passage; any problems are handled resourcefully, resulting in an English version that reads clearly and convincingly with no mistranslations or awkwardness of style.

2:1 60-69%

Good comprehension of the majority of structures and no significant difficulties with vocabulary. Demonstrates sensitivity to the mismatch between structures existing/in common use in the language of study and those existing/in common use in English. There may be a few mistranslations and one or two examples of awkwardness of style.

2:2 50-59%

Good comprehension of the majority of structures and vocabulary, but attempts to overcome translation problems posed by the passage are not always successful. English version reads well but shows some areas of unsuitable register, mistranslations and awkwardness of style. The student sometimes assumes wrongly that a grammatical or idiomatic structure that exists in the language of study also exists, or is in common use, in English.

3rd 40-49%

General comprehension of a reasonable range of structures and vocabulary, but with evidence of inability to handle some or the more difficult areas. Evidence of a reasonable attempt to handle areas of difficulty should be awarded a mark at the top of the range. English version shows awkwardness and tendency to literal translation. Where some of the English lacks sense and there is a lack of ability to handle some basic grammar in the language of study, the work should be awarded a mark at the bottom of the range.

Fail 26-39%

Satisfactory understanding of the original but shows inability to handle relatively common structures and vocabulary. There may be serious misunderstanding of part of the passage. The translation is literal, showing several instances of failure to produce a comprehensible English text.

Lowest fail 0-25%

Understanding of a minority of the passage demonstrating inability to comprehend basic grammatical structures and vocabulary in context. English version not able to convey the gist of the passage, lacks sense and is disjointed.

Marking criteria for translation into the language of study

The criteria below are generic to exercises in translation from English into any of the languages taught by DML. Your language discipline may also supply you with language-specific criteria. The criteria are cumulative (a higher grade implies the possession of the skills described at lower grades, as well as the absence of deficiencies described at lower grades). At the same time, the grade profiles are necessarily general and typical: a candidate need not fit all aspects of a profile to fall into that grade band and there may be elements that do not apply to every kind of translation exercise. In specialist translation exercises (e.g. literary translation, applied translation), additional criteria may apply.

Please note the following in applying these criteria:

  • In coursework (as opposed to examination) a higher degree of accuracy is expected in each of the grade bands and marks are deducted for poor dictionary skills.
  • Repeated or consequential errors are not penalized.
  • Gaps are penalized.
  • Marking is not purely ‘negative’: marks are deducted for mistakes but marks are also awarded for good translation ability as defined below.

High 1st 90+%

The sense of the passage is conveyed fully and accurately, and register is appropriate throughout. Language is virtually error-free and demonstrates ability to handle complex syntax. Shows ability to reflect the style of the original passage to a considerable degree and to reproduce certain stylistic effects. Demonstrates an impressive range of vocabulary and an awareness as to how and when it should be deployed.

Good 1st 80-89%

The sense of the passage is conveyed fully and accurately, and register is appropriate throughout. Language is generally error-free, although there may be slips. Demonstrates ability to handle complex syntax. Shows an awareness of stylistic features of the original passage and makes some successful attempts to reproduce them. Demonstrates a good range of vocabulary. Work which would be judged as excellent or very good at the next highest level of study.

Low 1st 70-79%

The sense of the passage is conveyed fully, and register is generally appropriate. Language is generally error-free, although there may be slips, and more complex constructions may generate more significant errors. Shows an awareness of stylistic features of the original passage and makes some attempt to reproduce them. Range of vocabulary is adequate to convey the sense.

2:1 60-69%

The sense of the passage is broadly conveyed with clarity, and register is generally appropriate. Few major mistakes of syntax and morphology are made, and generally the incidence of errors is low, although some of the more complex sections generate significant errors. Will generally be able to use appropriate vocabulary, though there may be gaps in knowledge or in understanding of usage. Displays an understanding that not all grammatical or idiomatic structures that exist in English have a direct counterpart in the language of study, and that the exercise of translation involves finding equivalent structures where necessary.

At the higher end of the range, work will contain few errors and the student will handle register well, with an attempt to reproduce stylistic features of the original. At the lower end of the range there will be less proficient mastery of appropriate vocabulary and syntax, and little attempt will be made to reproduce the style of the original.

2:2 50-59%

Whilst the sense of the passage will be clear for the most part, there are moments where translation breaks down. Register is generally appropriate, but some errors appear. A general command of syntactical and morphological features of the language of study will be evident, but there may be a number of errors, and complex syntactical elements cause problems. Little awareness of stylistic issues is evident. The student sometimes wrongly assumes that a grammatical or idiomatic structure that exists in the English source text also exists in the language of study. At the higher end of the range the student will generally convey the sense successfully, and will demonstrate an adequate range of vocabulary. A lower mark will be awarded to scripts where the incidence of errors is high and complex syntax regularly causes problems.

3rd 40-49%

Errors of register, syntax and morphology are frequent, but some ability to handle basic syntactical and morphological features of the language is demonstrated. The literal sense of the original passage is conveyed to some degree. Little or no evidence of an awareness of the structural differences between the two languages or of stylistic issues. At the higher end of the range the student will be successful more often in conveying the sense of the original, and will be able to construct some sentences with few errors. At the lower end of the range the work will contain frequent errors.

Fail 26-39%

Demonstrates the ability to handle basic syntactical and morphological features of the language, but struggles to convey the sense of the passage. To a large degree, lacks the vocabulary required by the passage for translation, but some relevant vocabulary is present.

Lowest fail 0-25%

Script is incomprehensible or significantly incomplete. Demonstrates inability to reconstruct any of the sense of the passage to be translated. Clear inability to handle syntax and morphology.